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Why God Cannot Exist (logical proof)


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To refute the existence of God, I must first define what I mean by God. It seems to me that God, defined in the broadest terms, is simply: the origin of all that exists. I think most theists could agree with this basic definition (with the exception of Mormons, who believe God to have evolved from a human being). It presupposes nothing of God's alleged qualities such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Neither do we presume any attributes to God such as personality, gender, emotions.

 

Having defined God as that which is the origin of existence, we naturally move to our second definition: what is existence? Again, we will go for the broadest definition possible and say that existence is anything within space-time (including space-time itself). This definition covers not only what exists at present, but all that has or ever will exist. It includes not only the physical realm of sensible phenomena, but all that is metaphysical as well; since even something as impalpable as a thought must take place within a period of time and must arise from a brain which occupies space.

 

Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

Edited by β-ΔK
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Because of the amazing power of unicorns, there is no way to disprove them.   Because of the amazing power of Zeus, there is no way to disprove Him.   Because of the amazing power of The Flying S

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^ Elaborate? How does the the statement that everything exists within spacetime lead to your conclusion that (if this is true) spacetime cannot exist? Seems nonsequitur to me.

To refute the existence of God, I must first define what I mean by God. It seems to me that God, defined in the broadest terms, is simply: the origin of all that exists. I think most theists could agree with this basic definition (with the exception of Mormons, who believe God to have evolved from a human being). It presupposes nothing of God's alleged qualities such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Neither do we presume any attributes to God such as personality, gender, emotions.

 

Having defined God as that which is the origin of existence, we naturally move to our second definition: what is existence? Again, we will go for the broadest definition possible and say that existence is anything within space-time (including space-time itself). This definition covers not only what exists at present, but all that has or ever will exist. It includes not only the physical realm of sensible phenomena, but all that is metaphysical as well; since even something as impalpable as a thought must take place within a period of time and must arise from a brain which occupies space.

 

Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

 

If 2. is true then space-time cannot exist.

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To refute the existence of God, I must first define what I mean by God. It seems to me that God, defined in the broadest terms, is simply: the origin of all that exists. I think most theists could agree with this basic definition (with the exception of Mormons, who believe God to have evolved from a human being). It presupposes nothing of God's alleged qualities such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Neither do we presume any attributes to God such as personality, gender, emotions.

 

Having defined God as that which is the origin of existence, we naturally move to our second definition: what is existence? Again, we will go for the broadest definition possible and say that existence is anything within space-time (including space-time itself). This definition covers not only what exists at present, but all that has or ever will exist. It includes not only the physical realm of sensible phenomena, but all that is metaphysical as well; since even something as impalpable as a thought must take place within a period of time and must arise from a brain which occupies space.

 

Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

 

Hang on. A proof that God transcends existence is not a refutation of anything. We would have to show that what transcends existence is not God. Often it is called the 'Unmanifest', but 'God' is sometimes used in theistic circles. After all, it's not as if many people know what they are talking about here. The choice of word is usually going to be arbitrary.

 

But I agree with your result, and the argument is telling. Looks like you're on your way to becoming a Buddhist, Kabbalist, Taoist, Sufi or Manichean, etc., who would all agree with your argument and conclusion. But there would be a subtlety. The Absolute would transcend both existence and non-existence. It would transcend all distinctions. This would be why partial metaphysical views never work.

 

For this view Statement 2 would be false. All that exists would be epiphenomenal on the Unmanifest and would therefore not really exist, having only a dependent existence. So this statement would have to read, 'Nothing really exists'. This would include God.

 

If we have to have a name for the origin of spacetime then Tao or Nirvana might do. No theistic overtones.

Edited by PeterJ
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^ Elaborate? How does the the statement that everything exists within spacetime lead to your conclusion that (if this is true) spacetime cannot exist? Seems nonsequitur to me.

 

The premise states that all that exists, exists within space-time. Something cannot exist within itself, ergo space-time does not exist.

 

I wonder if his concern is that it looks superficially like a paradox.

Spacetime would have to exist within itself.

But that's not a problem. My house exists within (the boundaries of) my house.

 

The house example merely splits your house into house (a) within house (b) and we lose the meaning of house.

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My house exists.

All parts of it are somewhere.

The universe is split into two subsets. Those parts of the universe which are inside my house and those parts which are outside it.

Anything which exists in the universe must be in one of those two sets.

No part of my house is outside my house.

so all the parts of my house are inside my house.

My house is the collection of all of its parts.

And, since all those parts are not outside my house and consequently, inside my house, all of my house is inside my house.

 

It is entirely within itself.

No problem: no paradox.

 

If you like, {the set of all possible sets} exists within {the set of all possible sets} i.e within itself.

 

 

It's really not a paradox, though you can get paradoxes with sets of sets that don't include themselves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_paradox

have fun.

Edited by John Cuthber
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My house exists.

All parts of it are somewhere.

The universe is split into two subsets. Those parts of the universe which are inside my house and those parts which are outside it.

Anything which exists in the universe must be in one of those two sets.

No part of my house is outside my house.

so all the parts of my house are inside my house.

My house is the collection of all of its parts.

And, since all those parts are not outside my house and consequently, inside my house, all of my house is inside my house.

 

It is entirely within itself.

No problem: no paradox.

 

If you like, {the set of all possible sets} exists within {the set of all possible sets} i.e within itself.

 

 

It's really not a paradox, though you can get paradoxes with sets of sets that don't include themselves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_paradox

have fun.

 

For clarity please provide the definition of 'within' and 'inside' that you're using in the above explanation.

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To refute the existence of God, I must first define what I mean by God. It seems to me that God, defined in the broadest terms, is simply: the origin of all that exists. I think most theists could agree with this basic definition (with the exception of Mormons, who believe God to have evolved from a human being). It presupposes nothing of God's alleged qualities such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Neither do we presume any attributes to God such as personality, gender, emotions.

 

Having defined God as that which is the origin of existence, we naturally move to our second definition: what is existence? Again, we will go for the broadest definition possible and say that existence is anything within space-time (including space-time itself). This definition covers not only what exists at present, but all that has or ever will exist. It includes not only the physical realm of sensible phenomena, but all that is metaphysical as well; since even something as impalpable as a thought must take place within a period of time and must arise from a brain which occupies space.

 

Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

I really don't know if your statements are factual or not, but I would like to interject this thought.

Other than those with a deep and abiding faith in a supreme entity none of us have a clue as to whom or what GOD is. Many scientists, unlike their religious counterparts have physical evidence that can be looked at as shiny beacons leading away from a creator. But is it that easy to differentiate between the two without a wealth of further and future knowledge? A diehard atheist simply believes there is no GOD, while the agnostic is hoping the atheist is wrong. Religious sects laugh, knowing that through their faith and prayer; GOD is supreme. So, where are we with this dichotomy? Floundering in a sea of doubt? I’m an agnostic lost somewhere in the middle. In other words, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Of course I believe in science since it covers fields involving many brilliant people. But what if GOD is that unfathomable Intermediary joining both sides of the coin?

Edited by rigney
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Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

1. so God is the origin of God - is that what you are saying?

2. Where is your evidence that "all that exists, exists within space time"?

3. 1 and 2 do not appear to be necessarily true, therefore 3 is doubtful.

4. And 4. is irrelevant.

5. As are 5. and 6.

 

You seem to have very weak foundations fro your argument.

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Over six thousand posts and you only found two to complain about?

Anyway, if you think I'm trolling then report it to the mods.

I really don't think they will agree with you.

 

This

"In Internet slang, a troll ( /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion"

from wiki is probably as good a definition as any.

Why do you think I'm trolling?

In particular, how can you judge my intent?

 

What part of my house is outside my house?

And, as I said, if you don't like that blindingly obvious concrete example.

What about my observation that "{the set of all possible sets} exists within {the set of all possible sets} i.e within itself."?

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I see no trolling myself. But the set of all possible sets is equivalent to Rucker's 'Mindscape', the set of all possible ideas, and this is just as impossible an object as the set of all sets. It is not solved by saying that the container contains itself. Your house is presumable not infinite, in which case it has a boundary and there is something on the outside of it. For spacetime this is not the case. I think Villain has a point.

 

 

 

 

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No, do difference. They are equally absurd ideas. There is a reason why there no set of all sets in naive set theory. The idea is paradoxical. If this problem is solved as easily as you suggest then Russell and Frege were fools.

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The premise states that all that exists, exists within space-time. Something cannot exist within itself, ergo space-time does not exist.

 

 

And here I was under the impression that every set is a subset of itself.

 

It's really not a paradox, though you can get paradoxes with sets of sets that don't include themselves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_paradox

have fun.

 

It should be noted that that only works with naive set theory. Because of that, no one uses that version of the Axiom of Specification anymore.

 

the standard definition of 'inside' or 'within' clearly do not apply to the explanation of your house inside itself analogy?

 

Then perhaps you should be able to explicate this.

 

No, do difference. They are equally absurd ideas. There is a reason why there no set of all sets in naive set theory. The idea is paradoxical. If this problem is solved as easily as you suggest then Russell and Frege were fools.

 

It is solved rather easily. All you have to do is modify your Axiom of Specification.

 

A historical note: Russell sent Frege a letter after he proved that naive set theory is inconsistent. Frege has *just* finished a huge work relying on naive set theory. Frege, however, was an honest enough of a person to include an appendix showing why what he just spent years writing was in fact wrong.

 

Your tacit assertion that part of my house is outside my house is absurd.

 

Indeed.

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My house exists.

All parts of it are somewhere.

The universe is split into two subsets. Those parts of the universe which are inside my house and those parts which are outside it.

Anything which exists in the universe must be in one of those two sets.

No part of my house is outside my house.

so all the parts of my house are inside my house.

My house is the collection of all of its parts.

And, since all those parts are not outside my house and consequently, inside my house, all of my house is inside my house.

 

It is entirely within itself.

No problem: no paradox.

 

If you like, {the set of all possible sets} exists within {the set of all possible sets} i.e within itself.

 

 

It's really not a paradox, though you can get paradoxes with sets of sets that don't include themselves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_paradox

have fun.

 

How is this relevant to the OP? Where is the use of sets in the OP?

 

Regardless of the relevance, the definition that you provided in your LMGTFY link means that inside my house is a proper subset of my house within the ordinary use of language, the subset 'inside my house' that you've used doesn't mean inside my house.

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How is this relevant to the OP? Where is the use of sets in the OP?

 

Regardless of the relevance, the definition that you provided in your LMGTFY link means that inside my house is a proper subset of my house within the ordinary use of language, the subset 'inside my house' that you've used doesn't mean inside my house.

 

What do sets have to do with collections of things and what is in and what is not in said collections? You got me there!

 

</sarcasm>

 

Regardless of the relevance, the definition that you provided in your LMGTFY link means that inside my house is a proper subset of my house within the ordinary use of language, the subset 'inside my house' that you've used doesn't mean inside my house.

 

You are objectively wrong. Every set is a subset of itself. For any set, we can build what is called the set's Power Set. That is, we can make a set of all subsets of the original set. Guess what is always a member of a set's Power Set aside from, of course, the empty set. That's right, the original set!

 

So, let's let set S be {a, b, c}. To build the Power Set, all we have to do is make each and every subset of S into members of a set containing nothing other than those subsets. What are the subsets of S?

 

Well, the empty set is a subset of every set, so we can automatically include Φ as a member. Since a, b, and c are all members of S, that means the sets containing only each of them are proper subsets of S. This lets us write {a}, {b}, and {c}. Now for the harder ones; we need to get all of the combinations: {a,b}, {a,c}, {b,c}, and *wait for it* {a,b,c}.

 

This means our set of all subsets of S is {Φ, {a}, {b}, {c}, {a,b}, {a,c}, {b,c}, {a,b,c}}

 

This is day 1 set theory stuff.

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What do sets have to do with collections of things and what is in and what is not in said collections? You got me there!

 

</sarcasm>

 

Good question perhaps you could relate it to point 2. of the argument. Would the set 'all' need to include 'space-time' as a member in order for 'space-time' to exist? If so can a set be within a member of itself?

 

 

 

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To refute the existence of God, I must first define what I mean by God. It seems to me that God, defined in the broadest terms, is simply: the origin of all that exists. I think most theists could agree with this basic definition (with the exception of Mormons, who believe God to have evolved from a human being). It presupposes nothing of God's alleged qualities such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Neither do we presume any attributes to God such as personality, gender, emotions.

 

Having defined God as that which is the origin of existence, we naturally move to our second definition: what is existence? Again, we will go for the broadest definition possible and say that existence is anything within space-time (including space-time itself). This definition covers not only what exists at present, but all that has or ever will exist. It includes not only the physical realm of sensible phenomena, but all that is metaphysical as well; since even something as impalpable as a thought must take place within a period of time and must arise from a brain which occupies space.

 

Having defined our terms, we will proceed with the following arguments:

  1. God is the origin of all that exists.
  2. All that exists, exists within space-time.
  3. If 1 & 2 are true, then God is the origin of space-time.
  4. If 3 is true, God cannot be within space-time.
  5. If 2 & 4 are true, God cannot exist.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist. God transcends existence.

So there you have it. God is a self-refuting concept.

 

At first sight your argument sounded convincing, (and for an agnostic point of view, compelling) but then I realised that the definition of 'God' that you chose for your premise: "the origin of all that exists" is not exactly how the concept is normally defined.

 

The secular definition given by Merriam Webster is "the supreme or ultimate reality". If 'God' is the ultimate reality then we can assume that all other realities, including of our universe as it is defined by space, time and matter, are somehow part of, caused by and/or dependent on this ultimate reality.

 

The religious concept of 'God' is usually defined as an immaterial and eternal being that exists beyond space and time (that ever was and ever will be), and that which is uncaused and uncreated; whereas our physical universe did have a beginning (hence it has to have a cause): it started to exist when space and time began to exist (Big Bang). From this the theists infer that our universe was created by this purely non-physical and omnipotent mind 'God'.

 

I am wondering how could you arrive at the same conclusion from this premise?

 

I really don't know if your statements are factual or not, but I would like to interject this thought.

Other than those with a deep and abiding faith in a supreme entity none of us have a clue as to whom or what GOD is. Many scientists, unlike their religious counterparts have physical evidence that can be looked at as shiny beacons leading away from a creator. But is it that easy to differentiate between the two without a wealth of further and future knowledge? A diehard atheist simply believes there is no GOD, while the agnostic is hoping the atheist is wrong. Religious sects laugh, knowing that through their faith and prayer; GOD is supreme. So, where are we with this dichotomy? Floundering in a sea of doubt? I'm an agnostic lost somewhere in the middle. In other words, I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Of course I believe in science since it covers fields involving many brilliant people. But what if GOD is that unfathomable Intermediary joining both sides of the coin?

 

Very well put. What I would like to add: in my view the science or religion dichotomy may as well be a false dichotomy.

 

The virtue of science - and of scientists - is not defeated if we admit that rational thought of a philosopher can also lead to valid truths. What both science and philosophy share in their methods is that both are domains relying on our rational faculties.

This is probably why scientists often make philosophical statements as to the non-existence of a deity with reference to certain scientific discoveries. If so, then science somehow needs to deal with those philosophical implications that points toward the opposite direction.

 

For example, philosophers of science often argue that science would be pointless without our assuming an ultimate organising mind behind the order of the universe.

Edited by My2cents
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At first sight your argument sounded convincing, (and for an agnostic point of view, compelling) but then I realised that the definition of 'God' that you chose for your premise: "the origin of all that exists" is not exactly how the concept is normally defined.

 

That's actually been a pretty standard definition for hundreds of years. It's the very basis for Kalaam and some of Aquinas's "5 proofs".

 

For example, philosophers of science often argue that science would be pointless without our assuming an ultimate organising mind behind the order of the universe.

 

The good ones don't.

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